“Come on,” a male friend pleaded with me, when I announced that I was off to see the Footloose remake with my girlfriends. “You are so much better than that.” Better than Footloose? Who did he think I was – some kind of film snob? Didn’t he know I scurried to the cinema and saw the Fame remake as soon as it came out? “I saw the trailer,” he continued, which meant he’d seen one more trailer for it than I had. “Isn’t it about dancing being illegal or something?”
Well, yes actually, Footloose is a tale of one city kid’s dreams to undo the law that renders dancing illegal in the small southern town of Bomont, USA. If that storyline sounds a little ludicrous, then that’s probably because it is. In fact, much of the 1984 remake is ludicrous, from the shameless modeling of main character Ren McCormack into a kind of awkward James Dean-Danny Zuko hybrid, the immovable stiffness of Dennis Quaid’s suspiciously botoxed-looking face to the erroneous fight scene at the end, after which the characters jolly off back to their prom to overzealously cut loose, footloose, as though the last ten minutes of crowbar-ing the baddies into submission totally didn’t happen.
Don't get me wrong, I like a cheesy movie. In fact, I love musicals and dance movies; the release of High School Musical 3 was a big event on my social calendar (I probably shouldn’t admit that in public). Footloose should have been a fine addition to my list of so-bad-they’re-good chick flicks – if only they’d stuck to the formula. The totally predictable but heartwarming story, plus clichéd screenplay, culminating in a totally sickening romance, mixed up with a lead of Zac Efron calibre and (naturally) peppered with a good seasoning of stirring dance numbers.
It’s as though this is what the Footloose team had in mind too, but somehow slightly missed the beat. The story creaks along awkwardly, as though self-conscious of it’s own shortcomings. It almost hurts that Kenny Wormald (Ren McCormack) is so nearly attractive, in that kind of Rebel Without a Cause way. I tried to fancy him, I really did. It’s as though female lead Julianne Hough did too, but never quite succeeded; the chemistry just isn’t quite there. Then again, perhaps I was just too distracted scrutinizing Hough’s face for likeness to her tabloid-favourite brother, Derek (you know, Cheryl Cole’s shoulder to cry on during the Ashley saga), to notice it. But when a musical like this lacks the any serious contenders for the Lust Factor, it’s sort of missed the point of it’s own existence.
At least the dancing’s great; the line dancing scene serves as a wonderful showcase for Hough’s (irritatingly) hot bod and consequentially raises serious questions as to why these hoedown throwdown moves haven't made it into Zumba classes yet. However, the film’s not without gloss; Hough’s similarity to Jennifer Aniston is striking, and she has the kind of sunny, California-girl hair that turns girls green with envy. But it’s the fact that Hough’s hair and lithe limbs occupy more mind space than the story that probably means the movie doesn’t deserve a place in the Full Circle Hall of Fame (otherwise known as films that are so bad they come full circle and are, in fact, spectacularly good). Shame.
Watch if…you’re after a mindless hour and a half munching popcorn in which you might deliberate the purchase of cowboy boots and/or a spray tan before throwing your next moves in the Lizard.
Avoid if…you’re one of those who seethingly resents anything with a whiff of the Zefron-High School Musical model and/or country music.